THEATER REVIEW: “Broadway Bound” @ Oldcastle [Berkshire on Stage]

October 3rd, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
Anthony J. Ingargiola and Sarah Corey. Photo: Erika Floriani

Anthony J. Ingargiola and Sarah Corey. Photo: Erika Floriani

Review by Gail M. Burns

From his perch in 1986, Neil Simon looked back to 1947 and wrote a play about the future. All the characters in Broadway Bound, the final installment in his quasi-autobiographical trilogy of plays about the Jerome family, are teetering on the verge of the precipice of change. The young people, sons Eugene (Anthony J. Ingargiola) and Stanley (Robbie Rescigno), are reaching eagerly for their future, filled with the promise of romance, adventure and success as comedy writers. Their father, Jack (Jason Asprey), is about to leave his wife and family, something their mother, Kate (Sarah Corey), knows and may or may not be ready for. And Kate’s father, Ben (Richard Howe), is clinging to his life in Brooklyn as his wife prepares to move to a retirement community in Florida.

It is a joy to see Ingargiola return to the stage at the Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington after his thoroughly winning portrayal of Huck Finn in last season’s musical Big River. His Eugene is kind and caring. He has a believable brotherly bond with Rescigno’s much more aggressively ambitious Stanley, and a truly warm rapport with Corey as his mother. The scene late in the play where Kate recounts her teenage adventure of running off to the Paradise Ballroom (when she should be sitting shiva) in order to dance with movie star George Raft requires Ingargiola to listen with love and wonder as he gains a deeper understanding of Kate as more than just his mother. That is not an easy trick to do. And when they dance – Eugene says later that he couldn’t hold his mother close because the moment was just too intimate – there is magic on the stage.

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Which brings us to the delicate subject of casting. Corey is a fine actress and she gives a wonderful performance, but she is too young to play Kate. There is a time to play a role like Kate, and you need to live a while to earn that right. It took me about half an hour to be able to put this problem out of my mind and accept her as the 50-something matriarch. That I did accept her and was able to move past the age issue is a tribute to her talent and commitment to this role, but there are so many fine actresses of the right age – Oldcastle regular Christine Decker springs instantly to mind – for whom meaty roles like this are hard to find, that I still question director Eric Peterson’s choice.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.